Education + X = A Sustainable Life

Recently I attended an educational conference where it was stated that by 2020, the City of Louisville will have a workforce demand for 40,000 additional degreed positions. As part of the conference, the groups gathered together to discuss strategies to ensure that youth go to and graduate from college.  While I adamantly agree that there should be strategies and systems in place to equip youth to further their education, in today’s society, obtaining a degree is only three-fourths of the task. The other one-fourth, or the unknown factor, encompasses increasing your own value proposition.  By including education with an added value proposition, you could dramatically increase your probability of having a sustainable living.

Because of globalization and the recession, many companies are analyzing how they are operating their business and implementing strategies to operate leaner and more effectively.  In many instances, organizations have combined, outsourced, or even offshored positions. Those business strategies have led to fewer employment opportunities, thus creating more competition among degreed individuals.  So, how could a college graduate increase his/her probability of having a sustainable living?  

Before graduating from college and as early as high school embrace the following mandates:

  • Maintain your values and integrity always.
  • Be a student for achievement in your classroom, community, church, etc…
  • Write a personal business plan.  This would encompass what college you would like to attend, your interests, etc.  In addition, list how you are going to achieve your goals.  This plan should be an action plan and a blueprint for achieving.
  • Get a mentor; someone who could offer wise counsel about life and career opportunities.
  • Conduct informational interviews and do job shadowing to better determine your career path. If you are in high school or college, speak with your counselor and/or career center representative above publications on careers.  Once you narrow your list, ask for names of individuals you could speak to about their career.
  • Learn the skill of developing and sustaining relationships among classmates, professors, and political figures in the community.  This will be a continuous process.
  • Get involved in the political process.  Learn more about the business of politics and how both play a role in society.
  • Learn to operate outside of your own comfort zone.  With globalization and the growth of society, one must learn to respect, embrace, and communicate with all people; if not, you will fall behind.
  • Volunteer in your community. 

As competition increases, individuals have to implement various strategies to be competitive, and in some instances, have to reinvent themselves in order to remain competitive. You also have to have a mindset of continuous reflecting and reenergizing.  By surrounding yourself with the aforementioned strategies, you can maximize the possibilities of being competitive in this society.

Alan D. Benson is the President of Benson Group, LLC, and author of this article.